“Aravot” says that representatives of the pro-opposition Armenian media were not invited to cover Tuesday’s gathering that nominated President Kocharian for the February elections. This fact, according to the paper, symbolizes Kocharian’s shift towards authoritarianism in recent years. The president was much more open-minded and tolerant of dissent when he took office in 1998. Most participants of the gathering had similarly nominated Kocharian’s predecessor, Levon Ter-Petrosian, six years ago. The only difference was that the former ruling HHSh has now been replaced by Dashnaktsutyun. The power class has remained essentially unchanged.
“They had heaped praise on Ter-Petrosian with the same zeal,” writes “Aravot.” Even after the troubled presidential elections of September 1996.
“Nothing has changed,” agrees “Orran.” “Almost all of those who nominated Robert Kocharian yesterday are the same people. Those who always stand alongside incumbents.”
“A whole stratum supporting incumbent presidents seems to be taking shape in Armenia,” comments “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “These people are always prepared to fill up government halls, regardless of their political views and convictions.”
Reporting that Ter-Petrosian has decided against running for president, “Aravot” again criticizes his allies for refusing to admit their past mistakes and policy failures. “Naturally, representatives of his team do not accept the obvious fact that progress has been made on some economic indicators in the last five years,” the paper says. The current authorities, on the other hand, present the HHSh’s 8-year rule only in the negative light. “Aravot” also alleges that Kocharian will falsify election results already in the first round.
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes a senior member of the Armenian Communist Party (HKK), Norik Petrosian, as denying claims by another Communist leader that the HKK will not team up with Artashes Geghamian for the upcoming elections. Petrosian says the HKK second secretary, Sanatruk Sahakian, lacks the “necessary experience” to make such statements. Another top Communist, Khoren Sarkisian, says the 16-party coalition is still alive and will succeed in putting forward a single candidate. He says that will happen only “on the eve of the elections” because the opposition fears for the candidate’s security.
Newspapers also renew attacks on the ArmenTel monopoly, reporting on Tuesday’s verbal clash between its Greek executives and Armenian government officials. “Hayots Ashkhar” and “Orran” dismiss ArmenTel arguments as “ancient Greek legends.”